A research project examining the ecology and behaviour of urban red foxes on Prince Edward Island is seeking the help of the public through a new website, launched today. The public can report sightings of red foxes at upei.ca/redfox, which will track the distribution, abundance, movement, and habitat of the animals.
“Tracking animal movements and distribution, especially for a large animal such as the red fox, is time-consuming and expensive research,” said Dr. Marina Silva-Opps, a terrestrial ecologist and Associate Professor of Biology at UPEI. “It requires trapping, affixing a radio collar, and a lot of human resource time. We know from the experiences of other researchers in Europe that we can map fox sightings using the public’s help, which is a great first step toward our goal.”
The website uses Google Maps technology to easily allow users to plot out the exact location of a fox sighting. Users can also contribute details about their sighting.
“The more detail of the sighting, the more valuable the contribution,” said Dr. Silva-Opps. “I’m extremely grateful for the participation in this project of The Wildlife Division of the PEI Department of Forest, Fish, and Wildlife; Dr. Sheldon Opps from the Animal Movement and Resource Selection group; and UPEI biology student William Robbins.”
Islanders are encouraged to report their fox sightings regularly to help the research team build a rich amount of data to draw upon.